Bernardo Bertolucci, whose epic The Last Emperor won nine Oscars and who influenced generations of filmmakers with other groundbreaking works such as The Conformist and Last Tango In Paris, in which he explored politics and sexuality through personal storytelling and audacious camera work, has died.

He was 77. His publicist, Flavia Schiavi, said that Bertolucci died at 7am Monday (Nov 26) from cancer.

Italy’s greatest auteur of his generation, Bertolucci managed to work both in Europe and Hollywood, though his relationship with the studios had its ups and downs. But even when he operated within the studio system, Bertolucci always managed to make films that were considered projections of his inner world.

The Last Emperor, an adaptation of the autobiography of China’s last imperial ruler, Pu Yi, swept the 1987 Oscars, winning every category in which it had been nominated, including best picture and best director.

With it, Bertolucci became the first and only Italian to win the Oscar for Best Director. The Last Emperor is among the movies that have won the most Academy Awards and was also the first Western epic about China made with the Chinese government’s cooperation. – dpa